State Center Community College District officials attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the FCC First Responder Academy, which broke ground Feb. 17. Photo by Ben Hensley
Written by Ben Hensley
The Fresno City College First Responder’s Center broke ground Thursday, marking the beginning of a $46.1 million project that has been in the works for nearly two decades.
“Today, we get to stand here and we get to celebrate something that’s been a long time coming,” said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.
Prominent members of the Fresno community were present at the event. Along with Dyer, newly appointed State Center Community College District Chancellor Dr. Carole Goldsmith as well as representatives from local congressional members were present.
Dyer, himself a long-time law enforcement veteran, commented that the Fresno Police Department plans to expand by more than 250 officers over the upcoming 2 1/2 year period, and many of those will come from the college’s program, including students who will attend the new academy.
“We need this academy today more than ever,” he said.
Currently, the college’s Police Academy is located behind Ratcliffe Stadium at 1800 N. Blackstone Ave, across the street from the main campus. The Fire Academy is located at the FCC Career and Technology Center at 2930 E. Annadale Ave. The EMT/Paramedic program is also located at the Fire Academy.
“There have been so many people who’ve been working to get this done,” Goldsmith said. “They had to change the location of this facility, but [the way] it’s ended up, I think this is going to be an even better facility than anyone ever imagined.”
The new center, located at 3300 E. North Avenue, will bring all of the first responder programs for police, fire and EMT into one location.
“The ability to put all our programs on one site will allow for several things,” said Fire Academy Director Peter Cacossa. “The two most important will be the building of relationships between programs at our level and second being able to interact with the community as a group and not three separate programs on three campuses.”
The new site will contain training facilities, weight rooms, simulation rooms, multipurpose rooms and outdoor scenario training areas.
“The Police Academy is looking forward to having a facility to train our law enforcement, fire and emergency medical students serving our community so that they are well prepared for the challenges ahead of them,” said Police Academy Director Gary Fief.
“Just our cadet program will go from 150 to over 200 per year,” Fief said.
He added that the capacity would be increased to more than 300 when including advanced officer training and corrections programs.
“It’s been a pleasant and exciting time for us because we’ve been waiting for so many years for this,” said Fief.
The total cost of the project will be $46.1 million — $45 million through Measure E, which was approved by voters in 2016, and the additional $1.1 million comes from Measure C, which was approved by voters in 2002.
Bush Construction, based in Hanford, was the contractor selected. Bush also built West Hills Community College’s new administration building and the Kerman High School academic and administration buildings.
Construction is expected to take a year and a half, with the ribbon cutting date estimated to be late summer or early fall of 2023.